Given the frequency of posts about our feathered ladies, I know some of you may think my life revolves around our chickens. Well I assure you that’s not the case…but they do add quite a bit of texture to my family’s life. But with that…I do have yet another post on our chickens…and this time it’s because a number of you have asked about our chicken coop design. So here it is…well at least Part 1. Today’s post will include an overview of the entire “chicken space” and the “floorplan” of the coop. Part 2, which will come next week, will contain more detail on the exterior views. So please check back in next week.
We realize that our chicken coop is not the average chicken coop…particularly in a suburbian neighborhood. But when I sat down to design it, besides wanting to accomplish all the obvious functional objectives, I also wanted to make sure that the entire space that we created was one that we would want to hangout in. We wanted it to not only go with the rest of our home and landscape…style-wise, but that it also had a cozy feel – embracing the fact that it’s not a very large space…about 25′ x 35′. That said, you don’t have to go to the lengths that we did. You can still have a really cool, attractive space…you just have to be intentional about it.
Bird’s-eye View of Scott Family Farm
The featured drawing and the one below are a bird’s-eye view of the entire “Scott Family Farm” (SFF)…err, our side yard. You’ll see that I’ve gone ahead and drawn both the current and future elements. Currently on SFF you’ll find: the chicken coop/bunny hutch, chicken run, and tool shed. And this year, I hope to add a potting bench with a rain barrel and a dining / hangout area with banquette seating – that will also serve as a screen. I’ve already created the outline where these spaces will live…I just have to find the time to build the different components. Not drawn, but I also plan on adding a few strands of string lights to both: 1. provide functional lighting when we check on the chickens at night; but also, 2. create a cool vibe when we’re hanging out in the eventual dining space.
Note, in order to cut down on the amount of mud and dirt that we’d have to walk through to get to the coop (and drag into the house), I’ve essentially covered the entire area with pea gravel…all but the foundation plantings. It’s edged with granite rubble strips to keep everything in place. Having mostly rocks on the ground also made the space around the coop less attractive to the chickens to scratch up and forage in while they are free-ranging…essentially directing them to “greener pastures” in other areas of our yard. I’ve found that as long as you give your chickens a good deal of variety they keep moving about and don’t really decimate any one particular area…that is except for ground covers (e.g., they love creeping jenny) and new growth of about almost anything they can reach. Which is why I’m having to devise a plan for their free-ranging this spring.
I’ve borrowed an image I used in a previous post (or 2) that shows SFF as it is now and indicates some of the primary functionality you’ll want to include when considering a home for your chickens. Looking at this may also help you orient yourself while studying my drawings.
The Coop “Floorplan”
- The overall / coop dimensions is 7′ x 11′.
- The structure is primarily supported by a 6″ x 6″ post at each corner, sunk 2′ into the ground…set in Quikrete, and 2′ x 8’s at the base and 2′ x 6’s at the top. The rest of the structure is made of 2×4’s.
- We chose to have a dirt foundation (i.e., no bottom…vs. wood or concrete)…with hardware cloth sunk 12″-18″ down on all sides (the variation is a function of the slope we’re dealing with on this spot) and then more hardware cloth laid across the bottom before it was back-filled with dirt – all to keep critters from digging in (which we’ve been successful at doing…so far!).
- The left 1/3 serves as the bunny hutch (or where we isolate sick hens…bringing our bunny, Belle, to her inside hutch when we do); separated from the chicken area by a “partition wall” made of chicken wire…attached to 3 2×4’s – bottom, middle, and top.
- The interior of the bunny hutch includes: a lounge / eating / creek-viewing platform at window level…and the enclosed “warren” underneath; a watering platform; and a play / dig space on the bottom…all connected by a series of ramps.
- The other 2/3 serves as the chicken coop.
- The interior of the chicken coop includes: a nesting box enclosure (with 3 nesting boxes…although they only really use one at a time, i.e., all of our eggs are typically in one nesting box) – which is raised off the ground about 18″ so the chickens can have access to the “chicken chute” (see 3 bullet points below); a perch; a hanging feeder; and a hanging waterer.
- The roof is tin. To keep critters from climbing through the top of the coop (where 2×4 rafters create a gap when resting on the walls), I simply added a board to box in the eave. I could have used wire instead, but I had extra wood and I thought wood would be easier to work with than either hardware cloth or chicken wire.
- The chicken coop is connected to the run by a 2′ x 3′ “chicken chute”. There’s a door that closes off the chute from the coop that I initially closed every night and opened every morning – but that only lasted about 3 months…now I leave it open at all times.
- The separation created by the “chicken chute”…between the coop and run, gives me ample room to get to that side of the coop to: 1. get our eggs through a “hatch” door opening into the backside of the nesting box (above the chute); 2. gain access through a door on the bottom 1/2 of the wall and to the left of the chute/egg hatch; and 3. to look into the coop through a large window above both the 1/2 door and chute/egg hatch. I used decking (painted the same color as the coop and run supports) as a walking platform…again, to minimize the amount of dirt we’d drag into the house. (Much of this will be described more in Part 2.)
- The chicken run (shown in the top drawings) is approximately 6′ x 6’…and is simply constructed of 2×4’s – with 4′ x 4′ posts set in Quikrete at each corner . There is hardware cloth along the bottom 1/2 of of the run walls (also sunk about 12″ into the ground) and chicken wire around the top 1/2 of the walls and on the “roof”. I used hardware cloth on the bottom 1/2 to keep critters from digging in…but it’s almost 4 x’s as expensive as chicken wire, so I used chicken wire everywhere else (and for the “partition wall” between the hutch and the coop).
So there you have it…Part 1 of 2 on the design of our chicken coop. Next week I’ll provide greater detail on the exterior views…which will help clarify some of the more important access issues. For those of you who asked me for our coop’s floorplan, I hope you’ve found this helpful.
If you’re considering building a coop and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you in any way that I can.